Highbrow Detectives?


I’ve spent some happy hours this week reading a Fred Vargas crime novel L’homme à l’envers. My edition is in French and I’ve been unable to work out what it’s called in translation, but it’s one of the Commissaire Adamsberg series. It’s really very funny with some wonderfully drawn characters and this particular novel with its mountain setting has been reminiscent of Henri Troyat’s La Neige En Deuil.

I mention the book however not to demonstrate how my obsession with detective fiction has moved to a higher plane simply by virtue of a foreign language element (clearly still bruised by Middle Daughter’s acerbic remarks about my book choices last week) but to highlight a fascinating passage about the generation of ideas by the Commissaire Adamsberg.

To think properly and reflectively, he habituates a noisy Irish pub. As a non-English speaker, though, he can benefit from the lively atmosphere without any meaningful distraction. And in this way, he can simply sit and wait for ideas to surface.

For Adamsberg does not go in search of ideas as such: he just awaits them. He’s happy just to dream, and filter through whatever emerges. He has every confidence that something worthwhile will emerge from his inchoate, unorganised yet fertile mind.

I think this is an excellent way of proceeding to generate ideas. Simple open meditation, receptive to anything which may pop in. Not stressing to forcibly think; trusting in things emerging. Allowing space to spot ideas on the periphery and not worrying if they momentarily fade away. They will return, in due course, and be recognised with delight. And meet up and connect with the other fugitive peripheral elements to provide wonderful solutions and inspirational ideas.

As long as we resist the temptation to chase.


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